This is the final installment from the diary Jaedeanne kept while visiting CSC in early December.

It’s a little surreal sitting in my tuk-tuk knowing this is my last time to make the commute to CSC.  This clinic has been my home over the past week.  The people have welcomed me with open arms, introduced me to their culture, and allowed me to try to help them in any small way that I could.  I played with and hugged the sweetest children, witnessed some incredible surgeries, had my heart completely broken, and had my heart completely filled back up again.

As Dr. Kevin is prepping for the congenital glaucoma case, a mother walks in carrying an infant which is covered by a blanket.  She bows a preliminary thanks to Dr. Kevin and removes the blanket from the baby.  This sweet little girl is possibly one of the most dramatic cases of orofacial clefts that I have ever seen.  It is shocking to look on the face of this baby who is trying to smile and interact with her mommy – it’s one of those moments that you just can’t prepare yourself for.  My eyes immediately filled with tears as I smiled at the mother.  What a strong, dedicated woman.  The baby doesn’t have eyelids either.  You can tell that the eyes are there, but they are covered with a tough callous.  Dr. Kevin explains that there isn’t anything that can be done to salvage the eyesight at this point.  The French team of surgeons will be taking on her orofacial repair next week, but there is nothing we can do.  I didn’t realize how many tears I had shed until I looked down at my scrub top and saw the droplets.  As the doctors continued to consult about the baby, I sat behind them and prayed.

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Dr. Kevin performs the last surgery for the week on the congenital glaucoma case.  They have set up a microscope with video capability, so this surgery will be used for teaching other surgeons.  Watching Dr. Kevin’s microsurgery from this perspective is so cool – he has the steadiest hands of anyone I’ve ever seen.  I think he’s found the right job fit.  The family waits eagerly outside the operating room.  When they deliver the baby into their arms, they bow a simple and grateful thanks.

 I will be forever thankful for the opportunity that Alcon gave me through SEE International and Children’s Surgical Centre.  This trip has changed me as a person.  It’s funny that I became more familiar with the ophthalmic industry in a third world country on the other side of the world than I have sitting in the middle of the world leader in eye care.  It opened my eyes, you could say…. What the Children’s Surgical Centre is doing for the people of Cambodia is so encouraging, heartwarming, and restores your faith in humanity.  Alcon’s generous support of organizations like SEE International enable these life-changing surgeries to take place – enhancing sight and enhancing lives.  Good people are doing good work there.  I can’t wait to go back…

P.O. Box 1060, Phnom Penh, Cambodia